Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Watching Ponyo took me back to my childhood and TV series such as Marine Boy and Astroboy. The animation and conceptualisation draw directly from the genre these represent. It says something when a 101 minute film which essentially tells a children's story captivated and drew in this adult!
Ponyo is a goldfish. She lives in an an undersea aquarium, the daughter of a former human turned undersea sorcerer Fujimoto and Granmamare a sea goddess identified in the story as the goddess of mercy. Ponyo yearns to explore and break free from the constraints of home and ends up in a rock pool where she is discovered by Sosuke - a five year-old boy. As he rescues her, he cuts his finger and Ponyo licks the wound, tastes human blood and Sosuke is healed. Sosuke declares that he will love and protect Ponyo forever - whatever it takes. Fujimoto sends his sea spirits to recover Ponyo whom he thinks has been taken prisoner by humans. Having tasted human blood, Ponyo now possess the capability to transform herself into a human.
Once back in Fujimoto's clutches, Ponyo uses his sorcery to escape and also to transform herself into a human. Ponyo's dabbling with marine magic upsets the balance of the sea and the natural world, even drawing the moon closer to the earth and so upsetting the tides. In the ensuing storm Ponyo escapes and is reunited with Sosuke. Separated from his mother by the storm, Sosuke and Ponyo go in search of her only to find her and the retirement community with whom she works, under the sea in a protective bubble with Fujimoto. Fujimoto summons Granmamare who comes to him and Ponyo. The only ways for the equilibrium of creation to be restored is either for Ponyo to revert to being a fish or for Sosuke to declare his undying love for her. I'll leave you to guess how it works out!
The animation and story-telling are first class from Studio Ghibli. The American dubbing of the voices boasts an all-star cast. This really is an excellent film well presented, well paced and interesting as well as enjoyable. It is complete fantasy and myth that collides with and impacts our reality. Out on DVD on 7 June - you can pre-order now.
I'll give it 8/10.